Vintage Passports and Travel Documents

Although paper travel documents have been around at least since Biblical times, it wasn’t until the 15th century that the form of the modern passport began to take shape. The earliest known European reference to a so-called “safe conduct” document dates to the reign of Henry V, when Parliament endorsed the King’s power to supply such documents to both British subjects and foreign nationals.

These official letters picked up their modern moniker in the 17th century, when King Louis XIV issued letters known as “passe ports,” a reference to passing through a ship’s port, or “passe portes,” describing the act of entering a city’s gates. In part, the name stuck because French was the international language of diplomacy until the early 20th century.

The first passports were typically a folded single-sheet certificate, evolving into a page folded in eight sections and bound with a cardboard cover. Though passports were gradually adopted by most developed nations during the 19th century, in times of peace the documents were viewed as barriers, rather than aids, to travel.

As railways began linking all parts of the continent, travel between European countries became much easier, and checking passports at each border crossing became a logistical nightmare. France eliminated the use of passports in 1861, with several other countries following their lead.

However, the turmoil of World War I again made passports essential for international travel, and in 1920, the League of Nations created its first international passport standards. These included recommendations that countries adopt a 32-page booklet with photographic identification and written in at least two languages, which would remain valid for no less than two years. As technology improved, passports increasingly included watermarked paper, overprinted designs, laminated photos, and machine-readable bar codes or computer chips.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Ephemera Society of America

Ephemera Society of America

Great reference on ephemera... includes examples and descriptions of various ephemera categories, selected special … [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Ww2 Identity Id Card Werwolf Ostpreussen Ss Wehrmacht 100% Original !!!Vintage Passports Usa 1924 Travel Document Canceled Soviet Russian Ussr Internall Passport Unused / Blank / Old 1975Lebanon - Liban - Palestine - France 1930 Passport Important Consular Revenues Serbia Srbija 2009. Travel Document Lot Of Libyan Visas Collectible PassportSr Yugoslavia 2003. Travel Document Lot Of Libyan Visas Collectible PassportExpired Passports From Yugoslavia 10 Pcs.Expired Child Passport From Yugoslavia Se1982Expired Passport From Yugoslavia 1967Rare Nypd 1934 Francis P. Garvan 10k Gold Id Card Presented By Nypd OfficersAnnette Funicello Personal Property Id Card American Guild Of Variety Artists1947 British Expired Canceled Collectible Passport, Travel Document1937 Czechoslovakia Expired Canceled Collectible Passport, Travel Document1953 Italy Expired Canceled Collectible Passport, Travel Document1952 Peru Expired Canceled Collectible Passport, Travel DocumentVintage Usa Passport Lot Of 5Ww2 Identification Card, Photo Id, Signed Documents All Service Papers Rare NrWw2 Soviet Union Russia ?????? Photo Passport Id 1939 MilitaryExpired Passport From Yugoslavia 1991Egypt 1986 Diplomatic Passport Embassador Signed Minister F.affairs A.abalmajedCzechoslovakia: Id Card For Reduced Rail Fare (pardubice - 1970) (# 4885)1958 Instrument Certificate Capt Chester B Clark Id Card 17th Ats M 1608th AtgPoland: Id Card - Tourist And Cultural Guide (torun - 1976) (# 5055)Republic Of Iraq Diplomatic Passport Saddam Hossen Passport Full With QatarVintage Id Card With Photo Romania Popular Secret Police Internal Affair Officer